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During a tour, our mechanics explained how they keep the trains in tip-top condition, for example by treating flat spots on the wheels.

His Majesty the King, together with State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen of Infrastructure and Water Management, visited the maintenance company of the Dutch Railways (NS) in Amsterdam. The visit focused on the crucial role of technical professionals in the railway sector and the growing shortage of technically trained personnel.

During the tour, the King and the State Secretary spoke with technicians about their work and the challenges they encounter every day. The talks emphasized the importance of technology in modern trains and the need to have sufficient technical staff to maintain and repair these systems. “It is essential that we continue to invest in technical training and that young people understand the value of this work,” said one of the technicians.

The Watergraafsmeer maintenance company, one of the four NS maintenance companies, was the focus during the visit. Preventive maintenance is carried out here, such as checking brake pads and wheels, and repair work on air pressure systems and bogies, among other things. The mechanics explained their methods for keeping trains in optimal condition. “We ensure that trains always enter the timetable with round wheels,” said one mechanic proudly, referring to the process of treating flat spots on the wheels.

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Maintenance company Watergraafsmeer
Photo: NS - Visit Koning Onderhoudbedrijf Watergraafsmeer

With the arrival of new trains, the maintenance company is continuously working on the latest techniques and technologies. This requires not only up-to-date knowledge, but also a flexible approach to quickly and effectively integrate the latest innovations into the maintenance process. The engineers showed various examples of these technologies and explained how they contribute to a more efficient and reliable timetable.

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During the visit, State Secretary Heijnen emphasized the urgency of solving the shortage of technically trained personnel. “The shortage of technical professionals is a major problem that affects not only the railway sector, but also many other industries. We must work together to tackle this problem,” Heijnen said. She indicated that there are plans to get more young people enthusiastic about technical professions and to better tailor the training courses to the needs of the labor market.

The maintenance company in Watergraafsmeer employs approximately 150 colleagues, who take care of the maintenance and repair of trains on a daily basis. Their work is essential for the reliability of the NS timetable. The tour offered the King and the State Secretary a unique insight into the complexity and importance of the maintenance work that often takes place behind the scenes.

De Koning expressed his appreciation for the efforts and craftsmanship of the technicians. “The work you do is invaluable to the country. Without you, the trains wouldn't be able to run,” he said. The visit underlined the dedication and expertise of the technical staff and their crucial role in ensuring a reliable and safe rail service.

With the increasing importance of technology in trains and the growing shortage of technically trained personnel, it remains a challenge to find and retain enough qualified technicians. The visit of the King and State Secretary Heijnen has once again brought this issue to the attention and emphasizes how important it is to continue investing in this sector.

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